The pro-choice charity Education for Choice has first-hand evidence that pregnancy crisis centres based on a 'Christian ethos' are using scare-mongering, emotional blackmail and lies to try and put women off having abortions. The Guardian coverage of the story tactfully talks about 'inaccurate information' but let's call it like it is. Lying.
EfC sent women undercover to centres including some run by the organisation Life. One of the undercover EfC women was given a leaflet that claimed 85% of abortions are carried out using vacuum aspiration. It stated that 'the unborn child is sucked down the tube' and that 'the woman should wear some protection. She has to dispose of the corpse.'
Another centre tried to persuade the woman to put off the decision and another handed out its 10-step 'road to abortion recovery', including steps entitled 'guilt and shame' and 'forgiveness'. The EfC women were shown baby clothes and talked to in emotive terms to manipulate them. There were also the usual lies about mental illness and cancer caused by abortion.
I'm confident in calling these lies because I've looked at some of the research the claims about cancer and mental illness are based on.
The Government is considering farming out services to 'independent' organisations, which would include those with religious motivations. In this instance, it appears that 'independent' mean 'independent of scientific fact and the NHS's own guidance on abortion'.
MP Nadine Dorries wants women to be forced to go for counselling before they can have an abortion - and this counselling cannot be provided by any organisation that also carries out abortions, for example Marie Stopes International.
Her original intention was to make this change an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill but it is now possible that the change will be made without a parliamentary vote. It appears that her ally Frank Field MP could be working with the Department of Health to introduce these new counselling arrangements via regulatory change instead.
If practices at the organisations investigated are anything to go by, this would be very bad news indeed for women and their partners. Only two out of the ten centres EfC visited gave accurate advice and only one mentioned centres which provided abortions. These are not good odds for someone who chooses to go for counselling and even worse odds for anyone being forced to have it.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a consultation on advertising pregnancy advice centres. The proposal is that they must state whether or not they will refer for abortion. Perhaps they should also be required to display their beliefs on large signs outside the building. Then women would really be able to make an informed choice about whether to go in or not. Some would and that's up to them.
This Government is constantly banging on about transparency so any proposal to use organisations that base their activities on lies, subterfuge and ulterior motives masked as offering 'choice' does not bode well for the Big Society.